Madagascar school building project

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2017: 6 Apr, 6 Jul, 6 Oct
2018: 9 Jan, 3 Apr, 3 Jul, 2 Oct
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Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Madagascar school building project

This project is run by a registered UK charity and Malagasy NGO that has been working on environmental, humanitarian and sustainable development projects in southeast Madagascar since 1995.

The majority of Madagascar’s population live in isolated rural communities, many of whom have little or no access to even basic levels of formal education. One of the challenges of the Malagasy government’s Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) 2007-2012 is to create a successful primary education system by “increasing school capacities especially in vulnerable zones, through the development of school infrastructures, the training and the recruitment of new teachers.” The government aims to construct at least 3,000 classrooms by 2012 to enable children aged 6-14 to be taught for at least a half-day, every day.

In collaboration with the education authority CISCO, the NGO has set up a schools building program for Mahatalaky. As part of the collaboration CISCO is committed to providing teaching staff. So far this program has completed 8 community school buildings complete with permanent sanitation infrastructure and a closed potable water source, for 8 priority villages that previously had no state provided school, benefiting over 2000 children of school age. Volunteers on the “Community Construction” program will be helping the NGO to build on these achievements.

This project is run by a registered charity that has been working on environmental, humanitarian and sustainable development projects in southeast Madagascar since 1995. Where possible and practical, we use only locally owned and operated suppliers and employ local people as guides to lead our groups of volunteers. We ensure that our suppliers are providing us with quality goods that have been sourced/ or grown locally wherever possible. Our local guides and staff are in full time employment with contracts, are treated as equals, paid a fair wage and not given an unreasonable workload.

We plan volunteer programs in a way which maximizes the opportunity to meet and work alongside local people, learn about the local culture and experience the local way of life. We teach our volunteers to speak the local dialect of the Malagasy language and provide orientation to present a balanced view of the country, the people, our work and local culture and traditions, religion, body language and eating habits before any volunteer visits the field.

We are aware that wherever we go we are having an impact on the environment. We endeavour to minimize this impact and engage in projects that not only make the environment sustainable but contribute to improving it. When visiting villages, group sizes are determined by what is appropriate to the area we are visiting and the job that we are doing.

Use of motorised transport is kept to a minimum. We ask volunteers to use water sparingly and respect the needs of local people at water collection points. We ensure animals are never fed or touched unless to do so is part of an organised visit to a park or other managed environment. We provide water to refill plastic bottles and we separate our waste for re-use or composting.

Reviews of Madagascar school building project

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 16 Aug 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Going somewhere so completely different, being looked after by friendly, funny,
knowledgeable and entertaining local staff. Sharing an experience like that with
total strangers who become friends for life. Meeting the kids who will directly
benefit from the work you are doing. Hosting a party and dinner for the village.
Cramming all of us and all our kit into a truck for hours. The list is endless.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Get in touch with the other volunteers in your group before you go and see if
there are things you need to take that you can share within the group. Take
some squash or sweets. You'll be amazed at how much you crave fruit flavours.
Make sure someone has one of those little portable speakers for evening
entertainment. Do not forget to drink lots of water. Nearly everyone that had a
day or two of not feeling great put it down to dehydration. Have fun! It's a
working holiday, but it's an amazing experience and actually being in such a
different environment to day to day life in the UK made it the most relaxing
holiday I'd ever had.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes definitely. I would not travel to a country like Madagascar as a regular
tourist as I wouldn't be confident in knowing what I was doing had a positive
impact (or didn't have a negative impact). By going with this operator, who clearly
have great knowledge, passion and great relationships within the country I was
confident in knowing I was having a positive impact. They work on an local level
to improve things for people in a very tangible way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

One of the best holidays I have ever had. If there weren't so many other places
to visit in the world to visit I would do this again in a heartbeat. I can see
myself returning to Madagascar with this operator in a few years time and in the
meantime I continue to support the work they do.

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